Malachi: The Smack DownPart 2 of a 4 part message on Gods Justice and Redeeming Grace
Yesterday I discussed how God was angry with Israel for offering the worst they could offer. The very bare minimum of what they had to the God who created them. They were barely scrapping by adhering to the covenant forged between them and Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. God had a right to be angry because we all know that God deserves our best due to the fact that He created us, molded us from dirt and dust, and forged us in the likeness of His image. I am not surprised at all for a minute that God is judging Israel for what they did because to this day we as Christians continue to offer him "lame sheep" upon the altar, we as Christians do not give God our full attention and obedience that our Father deserves. Well today I'm going to talk to you about the further injustices done by the Israelites and mainly the men who are in the priesthood, and how God in response rebuked them and cursed them. So sit back, open up the Word, and lets get to it.
Right off the bat in Malachi chapter two verse one we see God is definitely not finished with Israel "And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. " Okay so God is really stressing the "give honor to my name" point because A. He is due all the honor and glory, and B. He's LORD of all, Jehovah, Yahweh. He is our Father, our Creator, our God. He deserves it. I cannot stress that point enough, and it may seem that I'm repeating myself(which I am), but I need to hammer this point home to you. God demands respect, loyalty, fealty, however you wish to say it. God deserves nothing but the utmost allegiance because He is God.
Moving on in the verses above we see God cursing Israel and her blessings, He will "spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offering" that's some very vivid language and it gives you the idea that God is not fooling around. He is fed up with the way Israel is acting. God is going to and has already cursed the blessings of Israel, that means even the blessings they have received from Him before all this are now cursed, and all the blessings afterwards will be cursed. It's kind of like what God did to King David and the child he first conceived with Bathsheba. If you do not know the story or are rusty with your Old Testament history allow me to direct you to the scriptures I'm referring too. Second Samuel chapter eleven "In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” and now comes the good part, the part where God sends a man to rebuke King David in the next chapter "And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” Then Nathan went to his house. And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped." You see God blessed David with a child, but He also cursed the child to death because of the sin David had committed with Bathsheba against Uriah the Hittite. God gave him a son then took him away because God is just in all that He does, He is righteous in all that He does, because He is God. Israel knowingly or even unknowingly was defying God by offering impure sacrifices to God so what does He do, He curses their blessings and justly smears them(figuratively or literally I've no idea) with the dung of their impure offerings. God is pretty much saying I think this highly of the offerings you've given me and I rebuke you and say you are worth this much if you believe me to be a fool enough to accept it. I AM GOD! That's what God is telling Israel. He's throwing the offering that they thought they could get away with right back at them, and curses them to boot. This is all in the first three verses!!
Malachi goes on to report in verses four through nine "So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.” God is reminding the priest of Israel the covenant that He made with Levi and how Levi stood in reverent fear and awe before God and honored Him without question. The priest have gotten away from this, they've turned aside from God and sought new teachings, they've led others astray from the path of God and corrupted the agreement, the covenant with Levi originally made hundreds of years beforehand. The priest have been teaching a new doctrine, a new way of offering to God that is foolhardy and deadly to the people of Israel. So God does what He knows He must do, He despises them, He deals out judgement upon judgement and belittles the priest in front of the people of Israel because in reality by corrupting the covenant with God the priest have done the same. They've made God out to be some kind of puppet on a string, bending to the will of man. God had every right to do what He did. As Christians we must always be on the look out for men and women both who are corrupting the Word of God with their own teachings, with unbiblical practices, with words that may sound pleasing to the ear, but are entirely a death trap of sin. We must not be like the priest of Israel, we must make much the name of God and promote Him and His True Gospel, His True Word. We must not rely on our own intellect to get us by, but rely solely on the knowledge of God and the wisdom He has given us through the sixty-six books we call the Bible.
Malachi goes on to tell the people of Judah in verses ten through sixteen to remain faithful because abominations have been committed by Israel and Jerusalem, turn aside from you sinful nature and do not conform to the worldly views and norms(all a paraphrase mind you). God is demanding Judah to not be faithless but to seek the light, seek the Truth that they already know in their hearts. He is commanding Judah to distance themselves from the "foreign gods" of the women that they have married themselves into and to cast out the sin in their lives and return back to Him. God wants us to worship Him and love Him and honor Him, but how can we do so when we hold things above Him? How can we approach the throne of Grace, Mercy, and Truth when we envelop ourselves in deceit, sin, and anarchy from the One True King. God says "guard yourselves in spirit, and do not be faithless" we must have faith in God and just like Israel was lacking faith, just like Judah was lacking faith so are so many Christians in today's world are lacking faith in God to provide, comfort, heal, protect, and guide us in His perfect will. Gods judgement is at hand for Israel and for us, there will come a day when we are all before the throne of God and He will turn people away because they did not know Him although they may have called out to Him "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ " The Gospel of Matthew is quite clear on this in chapter seven verses twenty-one through twenty-three. Judgement is coming and you must truly know the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to be in Heaven with Him. You must rely solely on God to be admitted into Heaven.
I leave you with this question. Where do you stand with God, do you know Him, do you know His Son, do you faithfully follow Him and His commands? Tomorrow we will move onto chapter three of Malachi and discuss who the Messenger of God is, how Israel(and we as Christians) have robbed God, and the people whom God will remember.
All scripture is taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) published by Crossway